By Sydney Krebsbach

It all started when I was a baby my speech was significantly delayed, I did not begin using one or two words until age two and I was not speaking in full sentences until age three. My motor developmental milestones achieved on schedule. By the age of three my deficits in social communications were becoming more apparent. I entered a preschool program in Seattle for special children at 3 and was enrolled in a similar program upon moving to Juneau at age four, at the Mendenhall Preschool Program.

I received speech therapy through the school district in Kindergarten until 5th grade. I was formally diagnosed by a neuropsychologist in Anchorage when I was 8-years-old and diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. I received tutoring through REACH Inc. to assist me with my homework from 3rd grade until graduation from high school. During high school I had an IEP and received special education services related to my Autistic Disorder.

In 10th grade I took the high school qualifying exam, which wasn’t easy considering it took me two years to pass it but with the help of my tutor I was able to pass and eventually graduate with honors. At the age of 18 I finally had the confidence to obtain my driver’s license. It took me five attempts to get my learners permit, and two attempts for driver’s road test. When I finally passed I gained a huge feeling of freedom and independence.

I was finally able to transport myself and find employment. I have worked 3 seasons for a local helicopter company called TEMSCO, engaging with both fellow coworkers and tourists. I had excellent communication skills with both my team members and tourists from all over the world. With a positive attitude and confidence I worked hard and enjoyed working with both two legged and four legged team members. This was a great achievement for me as I was previously afraid of dogs.

At the age of 21 I shared that I was a young adult with autism. Social media allowed me to share my story on Facebook and autism websites. My job at TEMSCO was only seasonal so this fall I set out to find employment again. I refused to give up after applying for 28 different jobs. I decided to ask for help from REACH Inc. here in Juneau. With their support I was finally employed as Page for the Alaska State Senate. It is my determination that led me to my current employment today.

As a young woman with autism, I have overcome so much in my life. There were times I wanted to give up but I didn’t, I kept on trying until I accomplished it no matter what challenges I had to face along the way, it takes perseverance and determination to not stop trying and realize goals can be achieved. I keep telling myself to have the confidence to reach for the stars.